No one should presume rights on the road

Motorists here are aware of the stringent enforcement of the Highway Code.

Even where the lights are in the motorists' favour, they could face serious punishment if they are unfortunate enough to cause an accident at a crossing.

However, this has given pedestrians, cyclists and personal mobility device (PMD) users the presumption of right at crossings.

Where they are supposed to stop, at least momentarily - as recommended by the Land Transport Authority - to let motorists know they are waiting to cross, pedestrians now often step right onto the road, with their heads down and eyes focused on their handheld devices.

Bicycle and PMD riders are supposed to dismount at crossings, but do not do so (Refine traffic rules on power assisted bikes; Aug 2). At a maximum speed of 25kmh, PMDs can zip across crossings, requiring motorists to have extraordinary reflexes to avoid them if no clear intention to cross is signalled.

Traffic rules notwithstanding, nobody has presumptive rights on the roads. In the past, people were more careful when crossing roads, and knew there was always peril. We stopped, looked left, right and left again, then crossed at a brisk pace.

Today, people saunter across roads, with their attention on a video they are watching on their phone. If they are oblivious to the danger around them, accidents are bound to happen.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'No one should presume rights on the road'. Print Edition | Subscribe